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Apple looks to Intel for motherboard design?

updated 02:15 pm EST, Wed December 28, 2005

Intel, Power Mac design

Apple has reportedly for its next-generation Power Mac motherboard to industry giant Intel. Intel's Oregon facilities apparently picked up the project in late-October after Apple asked the chip maker for help to meet deadlines associated with its accelerated transition from PowerPC processors to Intel chips. Intel simultaneously and quietly formed an "Apple Group" consisting of engineers and sales staff, several of whom are rumored to have been assigned to the Power Mac project. Apple is racing to introduce four Intel-based Macs in the first quarter of 2006.

Models expected to debut include iMacs, 15-inch PowerBooks, 13-inch widescreen iBooks, and Mac Minis. Resources at the company's Cupertino-based engineering labs have apparently worn thin, however.

Apple hopes to adhere to its shipping schedule by enlisting the help of Intel to design, and possibly manufacture the Power Mac motherboard, according to AppleInsider.

One likely but unconfirmed rumor is that the new Power Macs will utilize Intel's next-generation desktop processor, code-named Conroe, which is also expected to ship around the same time. Unlike Intel's Pentium 4 processors and its derivatives, Conroe will not use the company's NetBurst architecture but instead will be based on a completely new architecture, according to the report.

Apple's decision to work with Intel Oregon on the Power Mac design may also offer costs benefits. Mark Margevicius, an analyst for Gartner Research, said any effort by Apple to pass its motherboard designs off to Intel would help reduce manufacturing costs of Mac, resulting in lower prices for consumers.

"Intel has done exactly this for the Wintel world several times over, and the benefits from a manufacturing cost have been huge," Margevicius said. The analyst believes pressure has been exerted on Apple's desktop systems from a manufacturing cost perspective, and that the company has finally realized that the real differentiation is at the operating system and software levels. "While cool white boxes are attractive and desirable, they are becoming more and more tough to justify compared to a plain-ol' PC," Margevicius said.

"While I have no insight how much this will save Apple, let's not also forget that Intel also offers marketing dollars (several hundred million, if I'm not mistaken) to [computer manufacturers] who display the 'Intel Inside,' 'Pentium,' and 'Centrino' logos on their hardware," Margevicius noted. "I would expect Apple to do the same."

Other analysts wonder how the traditionally secretive Apple will maintain control of its designs, plans and intellectual property once they are in the hands of Intel.

"The risk with this strategy is that it could make the Power Mac more 'open' than other systems as Intel's specs could be published for others to follow," said one Wall Street analyst who offers coverage on Apple, but asked not to be identified. "It'll be interesting how Apple retains its proprietary architecture--which I assume will be more than software."

The analyst also supported rumors that Apple and Intel may be forming an even closer relationship, and said that there are indications that the two companies may be working together on a custom microprocessor chip-set that will appear only in Apple systems.

Apple is to remain in control of the external industrial design for the new Power Mac models, according to the report.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Kazrog

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    LOL

    I would be both amused and depressed if Apple ever stuck the ugly Intel logo on their Macs.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Rushing?

    Great, just what we need, Apple rushing to get their macintels out. For what? So we can have even less reliable computers then normal? I mean, they're switching processors, which means a whole new motherboard, updated OS that needs to work identically on two platforms (and I'm talking low-end stuff, not crappy Framework coding), and getting third-parties up and running. Now they also want to make sure they get as much new hardware out there just to muddle the situation even more. Yeah!

  1. denim

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    y'all

    Y'all act like the sky is falling. Calm down and wait. Honestly.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    No intel inside

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=28562

  1. GreenMnM

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    RE: rushing?

    "updated OS that needs to work identically on two platforms"

    Mac OS X has already been running on both Intel and PowerPC processors for four years. It worked with 10.0.0. It doesn't need to be "updated" at all, it already works...

  1. MacScientist

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    MacNN Rumor Site Sources

    If MacNN is just going to repeat rumors from AppleInsider, do we really need MacNN?

  1. dpaanlka

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    100%

    I 100% Guarantee that you will never know there is an Intel processor inside a Mac just from looking at it.

  1. MacnnGregor

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    The logo is a distraction

    I don't care about the logo that much, I would be disappointed, but I doubt Apple would pinch pennies that tightly anyway.

    I am concerned about Apple giving up control over the motherboard. This was the benefit of IBM and it was nice to have competition in the designing marketplace. Until we can see the contract with Intel (never) we will never know how much Apple is giving into the evils of McDonald's economics.

    I would like to see how Apple keeps OSX running on IBM chips over then next 5 years.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: rushing?

    Mac OS X has already been running on both Intel and PowerPC processors for four years. It worked with 10.0.0. It doesn't need to be "updated" at all, it already works...

    Yeah, and its perfect, I'm sure. Not a spot of problem with the kernel, drivers, or the like. That's why its taking them a year to start the transition (I know, its not the OS, its the third-party apps and the hardware).

    There's a difference between having them 'running' and having them '100% compatible' (of course, considering they still can't fix the more obvious bugs in OS X.4, maybe hoping for an Intel version that's less buggy is kind of taking a leap).

    But the last thing Apple needs is to rush a boatload of product out the door just to say they've launched it, only to find out then that the OS doesn't really live up to expectations (what do you mean its 30% slower then my G5 tower?), buggy, limited driver support, lousy benchmark performance, and limited third-party updates. So why not take a restrained approach that won't make new mac purchasers feel they've been hoodwinked.

  1. kw99

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Intel knows its chips

    It makes sense that Apple would contract Intel to design the motherboard for the first generation of Intel-based Power Macs. Who else but Intel would know how to best utilize its highly complex high-end CPUs? Later, Apple can take the design back inside Apple, if desired (after learning from Intel).

    [Apple will never put an ugly "Intel Inside" sticker on a Mac.]

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